The first time I read through Sheila Callaghan's That Pretty, Pretty, or the Rape Play, I didn't get. I liked it, it was exciting and weird and kinda scary. But I had no idea what the hell was going on. The second time I read it, ah. I understood what was happening a bit better. The third time, everything (well, okay, not everything) fell into place. The play was still scary and violent and weird.
Then I saw the play on stage.
Let's pause here. I have some odd unpleasant anxieties about violence. About seeing violence on film or on stage. I freak out not so much about the violence before me but about the violence that I see in my mind, the violent images I make up after seeing or thinking about depicted violence and then have to live with for the rest of time. Sometimes, the anxiety about violence gets so bad that I actually panic and start to pass out. So, I was expecting that to happen when I saw the show, even though I knew from reading it where all the nastiness was. But it didn't. Unpause.
It was worth seeing. I enjoyed the production but somehow it just didn't match the production I had built up in my mind, this bright, frenetic, colorful world. It was a little drab, a little slower than I had expected.
Which isn't to dismiss it. It's more to wonder if I shot myself in the foot by reading the play so many times before seeing it. It's obvious, I suppose. Turning the play into a literary experience damages the play. It's the same when you read a book and then see a film adaptation. The film is never as good as the book, because the book was part of your vision, part of your mind.